tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: summer

Harry Potters all three

by tableofcolors

I don’t quite remember when we have had such a fickle summer. In 2004, it was perhaps the most rainy, but now if the sun shines and it warms up even a bit, the children start to plan a swimming trip. And there is reason to their logic. In two hours it may be that the sun is gone and we might have a shower before the sky clears up and the gives us a dramatic sunset.

dramatic sunsetBut I must say that even without the warmth that is traditionally associated with summer, it has been a good summer. The children have had time off from school and time for free play. Harry Potter is what they have been playing lately at our house as our soon to be nine-year-old has read them all and is reading them now for the second time and is directing the play. I overheard our six-year-old saying “…I don’t want to start from the beginning as it is so long…can we start from part three?” I wonder it he meant book three? The game can go on for days, taking a natural break at times and then continuing on the next day with new inspiration. This type of role-playing was my favorite way to play as well as a kid.

Harry Potter all three...

Harry Potters all three…

This afternoon I made the kids a homemade chocolate pudding for snack. I thought I had some extra milk that needed to be used up, in fact I didn’t as they had guzzled it up while I had been at the store. I thought they might like it and in the end, the homemade version has a lot less sugar than the store-bought versions.
Homemade chocolate pudding (gluten-free)

makes 9 servings

1.5 liters/3 pints of whole milk (farm fresh if you can get it)
2 dl/1 c sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar or one vanilla pod
1 dl/ 1/2 c cocoa poweder
about 12-15 tbsp cornstarch
3 egg yolks
little water

Place the milk, sugar and vanilla pod or vanilla sugar into a pot and bring to a simmer. Make sure it does not boil over. It does not need stirring at this point. Meanwhile in a separate combine the cornstarch and cocoa with a little water to make a paste and whisk in the egg yolks. As the milk starts to simmer, let it simmer for a few minutes. Remove a cup or two of the hot milk and mix with the cornstarch mixture. Whisk until smooth. Make sure the milk is on low at this point. Pour the cocoa mixture in a stream into the simmering milk and sugar mixture and whisk constantly. Cook until the first bubbles have formed and then remove from heat. Spoon into glasses or small serving bowls and sprinkle with sugar to prevent a “skin” from forming. Chill and serve…maybe with a dollop of cream.

homemade chocolate pudding collageI have a few butterflies in my tummy. I’m kind of a city-slicker and we will be going with my husband, just the two of us, into the wilderness of northern Sweden and northern Norway. We will climb the nordic fells and cross the border to go see the fjords. Exciting and definitely a little bit out of my comfort zone. But I’m sure it will definitely be an unforgettable trip. Welcome back in a little over a week or so for pictures from our trip or follow my instagram #tableofcolors and #jenkkimutsimaalla for on-the-spot photo updates. Wish me luck!

The Smell of Flowers in my Kitchen

by tableofcolors

Gone are the dark November days and the bitter cold of winter, summer has arrived. Everywhere I go there is the perfume of wild flowers that line the roads. The purple or pink Lupine are now in full bloom making the roadside ditches vibrant with color. This is the time to pick a bouquet of flowers; everyday if you wish.

gathering lupine

Soon we will celebrate birthdays as my oldest and my youngest are born when the Lupine blooms. And so in my kitchen is a bouquet of flowers and their smiling faces.

Silvia and Hugowildflowers 2On Mother’s Day I received a foodie gift from my husband. It was a little package that included all of the ingredients to make a batch of raw chocolate. Now that school is out and bedtimes are a bit more vague and mornings are a little more relaxed, I decided to try out my kit. making raw chocolateThe kit included goji berries, a little bottle of agave syrup, some cold-pressed coconut oil, and a package that included cold-pressed cocoa butter, lucuma powder, raw cocoa powder, maca powder, and Kalahari salt from South Africa. The Lucuma powder is a new ingredient for me and after doing a little research I found out it contains beta-carotene, iron, zinc, vitamin B3, calcium and protein. The Lucuma powder is also used as a natural sweetener as its flavor is similar to Maple. Maca powder is made from the Maca root and is also considered a super food and contains a complex of vitamin B, Calcium, Magnesium and vitamin C.

tasting raw chocolateWhenever I make something, especially if it involves chocolate, there is a line of eager taste-testers. Sometimes I try to show the “shhh” sign to the first one to realize the opportunity so that it does not become a mass occasion. Usually the effort is futile and so we take out the spoons and give everyone one scrape from the bowl to be fair. But today the line did not form as most of the kids were outside playing and Isabella was able to have the bowl to herself.

lazy summer daysBasically the process was simple. Without opening the jar of coconut oil, melt the oil in a hot water bath. Pour the melted coconut oil into a metal bowl and mix in the agave syrup. Next mix in the package with the cocoa powder and butter. Mix with a whisk over the hot water bath until melted and smooth. Add in the goji berries if desired. Pour into small forms and place into the refrigerator to set until firm. They have a slightly grainy texture that is typical to raw chocolate. Delicious with an afternoon cup of coffee.

raw chocolate with goji berryIn my kitchen and in my heart are memories from my recent trip. I brought back some of my Dad’s dried sour dough starter and have been making his bread. It tastes just like home.

bread collage2USA 2014 collageThis post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen series for June. Check out her blog for a collection of posts from kitchens around the world.

Queen’s Tart

by tableofcolors

bellasberries2

The inspiration for this post came from a fellow blogger in Sweden and her tart that she made using blackberries. And my little two year-old Isabella and her love for berries was certainly an inspiration as well. My husband snapped these shots of her enjoying her berries at the cabin this summer.

bellas berries3

It’s a favorite past time of the children in the summer to take a long piece of Timothy-grass and slide raspberries and blueberries on it. After their little excursion they might enjoy them while sitting on the porch. I think the most important part of it is that they are their very own berries. Fresh berries always at their prime. But sadly blueberry season is coming to a close, even though I spotted quite a few on a walk yesterday evening. The recipe below can be easily made with frozen berries.

In Finland, when raspberries and blueberries are mixed and served together for example in jam it is called “Queen’s jam”. And so this tart that originally was a plum tart and has been made using blackberries has been now transformed into Queen’s tart.

afternoonh

Queen’s Tart (from the blog Leya, slightly altered)

Gluten-free version

This tart works great with fine grain gluten-free flour. I made a double batch of the recipe below and made a gluten-free version with 1/3 of the batter and regular with the rest. It turned out great and the difference in flavor was very minimal. When baking with gluten-free flour it is helpful to lower the oven temperature a little since the baked goods tend to get color a little faster.

Blueberries and raspberries so that the bottom of the tart pan is covered with two layers of berries.
1 and 1/2 dl/0.6 c sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp sugar
(1 tbsp potato or corn starch)
1 dl/0.4 c flour (or gluten-free flour)
1 tsp baking powder
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 dl/0.8 c whipped cream

Butter your tart pan. If using frozen berries mix with potato or corn starch and 4 teaspoons of sugar.

berries

Whip the eggs with the 1.5 dl/0.6 cups of sugar until a light foam. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Whip your cream and fold it into the batter. Pour the batter over the berries and bake in the oven at 200 C/390 F for about 20 minutes. The original recipe called for a bake time of about 45 minutes but this is probably due to shape and depth of the tart pan. I used a wide (22 cm/8 and 1/2 inch) and shallow pan. Enjoy with vanilla sauce or ice cream.

queens tart

Fiskars

by tableofcolors

When I think of travel, I automatically think of far away places, but sometimes there are unique places to visit close by. We had an opportunity to take a little mini get-away for just a night. Of course we had our little baby with. The kids had a trusted sitter and so with pleasant expectations we packed our overnight bags for a little excursion. Fiskars and Billnäs are only about three hours away. We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast, Taika Villa. Really I think hotels are quite boring. This old house had gardens and flower patches circling around the yard. The other house guests that we met at breakfast were so friendly that they really made the visit that much more enjoyable.

Fiskars is an old industrial town located in South-Western Finland. Fiskars Ironworks was founded in 1649 by Dutch businessman Peter Thorwörste. The town slowly was built up and the work of many architects can be seen in the buildings, one being Carl Ludwig Engel. Some of Engel’s works include the buildings surrounding the Senate square in Helsinki including the Helsinki Cathedral. As was typical for these types of industrial towns, they were quite self sufficient. The village had its own school and doctor. Later in the 18902, a hospital was built. Here is a link to the history of Fiskars.

 

old mill
fire station

In the 1980s, the Fiskars Ironworks was reorganized. Production was moved to more up-to-date facilities in Billnäs which is close by. Today the Fiskars village area is mainly used by artisans, designers and artists.

Amongst the studios are homes. And nestled between some trees, on top of a hill was a little playhouse.

playhouse

We had dinner at the Kuparipaja, which means copper smithy. The location of the restaurant was an actual copper smithy during a time when the water rushed in large volumes past the mill. Today the river was much more tame.

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We both ordered their menu of the day. I usually order fish when I dine out since I usually only eat quite small amounts of meat at one time and restaurant portions are usually quite large. This time I made an exception since our waitress guaranteed that the portion would not be too large. It was perfect in size. I did not feel like I had to digest it for the rest of night! Our appetizer was egghash with smoked Baltic herring on a rye bread made with malt. It tasted quite similar to the tuna salad that we often make at home. It did not have the wow effect, but it was plenty tasty. Our main course was braised cheek of pork with organic, homemade sausage on celeraic purée and stewed red cabbage and a very strong mustard garnish. I was pleasantly surprised how well everything worked. I am not really a sausage person but this sausage definitely won me over. It was flavored with herbs and we even found a few fennel seeds in the mix. The stewed cabbage was so good that we decided to try out our own version at home. For dessert we had strawberry sorbet, rhubarb compote and yoghurt mousse. Perfect end to a well balanced meal.

Stewed Cabbage using a slow cooker

500 g/17 oz red cabbage sliced into thin strips

3 granny smith apples peeled and sliced

1.5 dl/ 1/2 c apple juice

salt and pepper

Place all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and set on low. Allow to cook for about 4 hours.

I served it with organic sausage that has a meat content of 90%. Garnish with Dijon mustard.

sausage

On the way home we stopped in Billnäs, another early industrial town and there I spotted a neat car I wouldn’t mind to have as my summer ride. We took the scenic route, avoiding the freeway and visited the Raasepori fortress.

When we arrived home Saturday afternoon we still had time to take saunas with the whole family and spend all of Sunday together. Just perfect.

2013-08-09 20.33.05

Colors and Flavors of Late Summer

by tableofcolors

A celebration at home

by tableofcolors

This past Sunday we had the baptism for our little Hugo. We have always held our baptisms at home and it is a fairly small, intimate affair with family members and close friends. I really enjoy organizing the celebration for the small baby, even though the baby has not an inkling of the color coordinated napkins, ribbons or macarons. Really those things are not the essence of the celebration but just something that I enjoy and find pleasing to the eye.
Hugo4
We had balmy weather, perfect for being outside and running barefoot on the lawn. Although I appreciate all seasons, my favorite season is summer. I love the warm days, the spring greens of early summer and the deeper greens of late summer. I chose green ribbons for our summer baby’s baptismal gown. The previous weekend I went to the local flea market on Saturday morning with a couple of our girls and the baby. I felt like I had found a treasure when I found some glass bottles for only an euro. Right away I could envision the flowers that they might hold and perhaps sometimes later, juice and a straw.
flowers outside
EllenkakkujaOrganizing the baptism involves the whole family. Everyone helps in their own way depending on their age and capabilities. Some helped with the baking, others helped pick the sprigs of blueberry and tall grasses and everyone helped clean and organize the house.

baking
Sugar cookies

We had a mix of sugar cut-outs and traditional gingerbread cookies that were in a variety of shapes and decorated using dark and white chocolate and nonpareils. The gingerbread recipe can be found here.The recipe below is one I have received from my sister a few years ago that I have altered a bit.

6 dl/2 and 1/2 c flour
1.8 dl/ 3/4 c almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
115 g/1/2 c butter
2.4 dl/1 c sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract
1.2 dl/ 1/2 c sour cream (I have also used greek yoghurt)

Beat the softened, room temperature butter with the sugar until fluffy and light in color. If using a stand mixer use the paddle attachment. Add the eggs in one at a time and beat at high speed until they incorporated into the cookie dough. Next add in the sour cream and almond or vanilla extract. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and fold into the dough. Allow the dough to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Roll the dough on a floured surface and use cookie cutters to make desired shapes. Bake at 175 C/350 F for a few minutes so that they have just a little color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Easily the day slips by and it is nice to have a few savory items on the menu. One of them is this Broccoli salad. It has become one of my new favorite salads. The recipe to the salad I found from the great REMcooks blog.

broccoli salad I tried it out and it tasted absolutely fantastic and all of my taste testers agreed with me. Not to mention that it fit the color scheme as well, a definite bonus! Other than two tiny alterations to the original recipe, I followed the recipe quite closely. I used dried cranberries instead of dried cherries just because they were not readily available here and I did not blanch the broccoli as the original recipe suggested. Either way it works fine.

3 crowns fresh broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets (about 1 to 1-1/2 lb)
1.2 dl/1/2 cup red onion, small dice
1.2 dl/1/2 cup celery, small dice
0.8 dl/1/3 cup raisins
0.8 dl/1/3 cup dried cherries (or dried cranberries)
2.4 dl/1 cup almond slivers, toasted
0.8 dl/1/3 cup mayonnaise
1.6 dl/2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp wildflower honey
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
170 g/6 oz chorizo, cut into small pieces
1 tsp salt

Chop up the broccoli, red onion and celery and mixed them together. You may toast your almonds on the pan quickly before frying the chorizo or in the oven. Next I fried the chorizo and tossed them in with the broccoli. Then combine the remaining ingredients: raisin, cherries (cranberries), mayonnaise, Greek yoghurt, honey, balsamic vinegar and salt. Pour over the salad and mix until combined.

roses

In my next post I will share a few more recipes from the baptism menu.

Menu

Broccoli Salad
Garden Fresh Salad with Feta
Oven-toasted baguette slices with a rosmary honey-butter

Sugar cut-out cookies
Gingerbread cookies
Kiwi white chocolate cake
Macarons with a ganache and pistachio filling
Turtle brownies
Princess torte

A Moment in time

by tableofcolors

I often think that time just slips by a little too fast. The summer flowers bloom and then they wither away. This sunflower was a Mother’s day gift. It had a tall thin stem, and to tell you the truth I was a little concerned how it was going to make it. As the air got warmer we planted it outside. The stem became thick and strong and the yellow flower turned its face to the sun. It’s so fun for both the little gift-giver and receiver to run outside and check on its progress. There are more flowers coming.
sunflower
The kids grow so fast and even our little baby is curious of the world around him. It seems like this past month just sailed by a little too quick. I’ve often thought that the little snapshots that are taken enforce the memories that are in our hearts.
hugo 4 weeks
hugo 4 weeks 3
This past week, a long-time friend came to visit. We have spent countless hours having sleep-overs, creating a secret club with our friends, giggling over our first crushes, going to camp together, and learning about life and growing-up together. We have some snap shots from those times in our albums. We have wide smiles on our narrow child-like faces. We rarely have a chance to meet since we live on different continents, but when we meet up again it feels like we just pick up from where we last left off.

When there is a special occasion, a cake is certainly in order! This cake recipe I received from another long-time friend. It is called the Pätkiskakku since it uses Pätkis, which is a chocolate mint truffle. You may substitute a local mint truffle from your area if the Pätkis truffles are not available. The cake is originally meant to be covered in a chocolate frosting, but I fine-tuned it a bit. Since we have an abundance of berries, I split it and filled it with berries and cream and frosted it with whipping cream. Our little berry-picker arrived just in time and was wondering how he could use his freshly picked blueberries. I suggested that he might decorate the cake, to which he happily obliged.
decorating

Pätkiskakku
5 dl/2.1 c flour
3 dl/1.3 c sugar
3 tbsp dark cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar ( I used vanilla extract)
dash of salt
150 g/5.3 oz butter, melted
2 dl/0.85 c plain yoghurt
4 Pätkis mint truffle bars or 12 mint truffles roughly chopped
3 eggs

Butter a 22-23/9 inch cake pan. I floured it with wheat bran to give the cake a nice texture. Mix the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and mint truffles together. I used a microwave for this. Add the plain yoghurt and eggs into the melted butter mixture and whisk until smooth. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not over mix. Bake for 40 minutes at 175C/350F. Remove from oven when a inserted toothpick comes out clean.
patkis

Allow to slightly cool and remove from cake pan. Allow to cool completely. I leveled the top of the cake just a bit so that it would lie a little flatter. Whip 3.5 dl/1.5 cups of heavy cream and add sugar to taste. Fill cake with berries and cream leaving 1/3 of the cream for the top. Before frosting with the cream, I spooned a little milk on the top layer to give the cake a little added moisture. This step is optional. Garnish with berries. patkiscake
This would be a splendid cake for a birthday as well…Happy birthday to my Äiti, my brother and Gramma! July is a birthday month in our family!

flowers

Gramma Reeni’s Rhubarb Tart

by tableofcolors

Last weekend we enjoyed this Gramma Reeni’s rhubarb tart not once but twice. Earlier in the week my Grampa Jim sent me the recipe and some photos to go with it. You could call this tart a family heirloom. It is from my Great Grandma Irene, or as we called her, Gramma Reeni. She used to live in a quaint small white house near Rochester, Minnesota. Not far away was the store that her husband held. Outside the house were her flowers and the lawn that she cut with a push mower.

We celebrated my sister’s 30th birthday with the tart and everyone liked it so much that it disappeared quite quickly. For Sunday I made a new tart and it was enjoyed just as quickly. We have eaten this tart every year during rhubarb season, so you could say that it is a taste from childhood. But since I had moved to Finland I had not had it and after a break of thirteen years, it was nice to receive this recipe.

DSC04233 copy-1

Rhubarb Tart

2.4 dl/1 c flour

5 tbsp powdered sugar

110 g/4 oz/ 1/2 c unsalted butter

1/4 tsp salt

Blend flour, salt and sugar. Add softened butter and work together to make a pastry. Press pastry into a papered 20 cm/8 inches spring form pan. Bake pastry for 15 minutes in a convection oven at 160 C/330 F.  (or 180 C/350 F if using a traditional oven.)

rhubarb

2 eggs

3.5 dl/1 and 1/2 c sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1.2 dl/ 1/2 c flour

5.3 dl/ 2 and 1/4 c chopped rhubarb

rhubarb mixture

Beat eggs well, add sugar and salt a little at a time, beat well and add flour and mix. Fold in the rhubarb, then pour the rhubarb mixture onto the baked pastry shell. Top the tart with 0.8 dl/ 1/3 cup of walnut pieces and 0.6 dl/ 1/4 cups of brown sugar sprinkled over the tart. Bake for 30-35 minutes in a convection oven 160 C/330 F. (or 180 C/350 F if using a traditional oven.)

tartServe with vanilla ice cream.

Links to other recipes from Grampa Jim: Almond Braid, Fresh Fruit Tart, Cranberry Cake, Cranberry walnut scones

Strawberry season

by tableofcolors

IMG_3029
The strawberry season came quickly upon on, almost too quickly! They are predicting a short and sweet season with an abundance of berries ripening in a very short time span. In some ways this is fortunate for us since they dropped the price per kilo making self-picked a very economical option this year! My husband and the kids headed to the strawberry farm and came back with 22 kg/48.5 lbs. of fresh strawberries. We have been eating strawberries at nearly every meal these past couple of days.
strawberries

shot of strawberry
One morning we had these little shots of strawberry smoothies for breakfast. The small size is perfect for the small folk. Click HERE for the recipe.

Most of the strawberries we froze, and as we made an inventory of the freezer we noticed that we still have an abundance of blueberries from last year as well as some home-pressed apple juice. The apple juice works wonderful with homemade hamburgers and salad for a Fourth-of-July dinner. It won’t be long before the new berries and apples are ripe. It is time to start truly emptying the freezer!
hamburgers

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Chop up vegetables of your choice. I used paprika, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and garlic. I marinated them in a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, sea salt and fresh tarragon from the garden. Grill or sautè in a pan for a few minutes and serve over a fresh bed of mixed lettuce. Summer is all about easy foods using fresh ingredients. This salad is quick, easy and versatile. Just use the ingredients and herbs you happen to have on hand!
burgers
lettuce 2
For all of those that celebrate the American Independence Day, Happy Fourth of July!

Midsummer and Crepes

by tableofcolors

During midsummer it seems as if our internal clock goes into a summer mode. Usually the kids are in bed at 8.30 pm and the wake up is at 7 am during the school year. But once school is out it takes about three days to go into summer schedule where bedtime is closer to 10 pm and wake-up around 9 am for the kids. During midsummers bedtime tends to go even a bit later. Mom, however prefers an earlier bedtime for the kids and after the weekend we try to aim for the 10 pm bedtime.  It is so easy to lose track of time when the day is so long and light. This midsummers we were at home enjoying our new little Hugo, who has been a super baby. We made crêpes on a couple of occasions, as they seem to go hand-in-hand with summer, spending time together and have won the “kid’s choice” award in our house. Making crêpes is somewhat of a whole family affair. In Finnish crêpes are called lettu, lätty or räiskäle, depending on the region or the dialect.

Our little fisherman had gone fishing with Dad one evening. He was quite proud coming home with two rainbow trout.
fishing
We had oven-baked fish one evening and for the next evening we made savory nettle crêpes and rainbow trout filling with the leftover fish. Smoked Salmon could be easily substituted in and would also make a wonderful filling.
lohi crepe

Rainbow Trout filled savory Crêpes

Crêpes

1.5 l/6.3 c milk
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 dl/ 1/2 c wheat bran
2.4 dl/1 c dried nettle
11.8 dl/5 c flour
4 eggs
1/2 dl/1/4 c oil

Mix the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fry on medium hot griddle with a little oil. This is a fairly large batter so you may prefer to halve it to better fit your needs. Serve warm with the Rainbow Trout filling.

Rainbow Trout filling

160 g/5.6 oz Rainbow Trout or Salmon
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
200g/7 oz sour cream
handful of fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
black pepper
salt
little mustard according to taste

A couple of evening after having our Rainbow Trout-filled crêpes, I was trying to think of a evening snack/supper after a long day of being outdoors and swimming. Since my husband had just gotten our summer kitchen fixed up we decided to give it a try and so Crêpes or lettuja won the popular vote. This time we made the sweeter version.

letun paisto

Sweet Crêpes

1.5 l/6.3 c milk
1 dl/ 1/2 c sugar
2 tsp salt
1 dl/ 1/2 c wheat bran
11.8 dl/5 c flour
4 eggs
1/2 dl/1/4 c oil

Combine ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fry on a medium-hot griddle until golden brown. Serve warm. Feel free to halve the recipe if making for a smaller crowd. Serve with a topping of your choice, berries, whipped cream, jams or preserves, ice cream or a simple sprinkle of sugar.

lettu